Don Martin: The double helix of entitlement and political favouritism
Published Thursday, October 20, 2016 5:55PM EDT
After the year of the non-stop honeymoon, voters may have cause to demand an early counselling intervention for their poll-topping Liberal government.
While even the harshest critic would likely give the Liberals decent marks for their post-election performance so far, there’s an irritant with the history-proven capacity to morph from a quibble to disappointment to voter divorce if not caught and cured.
That double helix of entitlement and political favouritism, so dominant in the DNA of Liberals past, is staging a biological comeback in Justin Trudeau’s government.
We’ve seen the improper use of a limousine and gratuitous photography for rookie ministers and exorbitant moving claims for senior staff.
Then there were the squeamish optics of the federal justice minister cozying up to law firms for fundraising cash, firms which could fill judicial appointments or provide external departmental advice.
But now, thanks to the Globe and Mail, we learn that Finance Minister Bill Morneau is hobnobbing for $1,500 Liberal party cheques from well-heeled business leaders as part of his pre-budget consultation blitz.
The notion of pay to play with cabinet ministers is not new. And the prime minister’s shrug by way of default explanation is technically correct in that this doesn’t violate the letter of the law.
But that’s no excuse. It’s a gross spiritual violation of the legislation.
It was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself who decreed that even the perception of selling access for political donations was not to be tolerated.
Business leaders paying the maximum donation to attend a small reception at a wealthy business leader’s home to meet a finance minister with billions of budget dollars to spend is one very ugly perception.
What’s worse than the apparent Morneau perception exemption is how this is not a one-off.
There will be 20 of these exclusive high-priced, back-slapping, arm-twisting, glass-raising ministerial get-togethers this year.
The practice of ear-bending cash is so odious, the masters of this dark art, specifically the Ontario Liberals, are outlawing it.
Before it comes back into vogue federally, Justin Trudeau must vanquish the age-old Liberal philosophy that who you know in the PMO is all that matters. That’s his real change challenge in his second year as prime minister.